I just don’t comment anymore

For as long as the web existed, I had been a frequent commenter on many sites. Yet, I was upset that when I post a comment, someone else controls it. I might be moderated out of existence. They can delete or edit your post. They can ban me. The entire site might even shut down. Then that content which was valuable enough for me to spend time typing is lost for eternity.

To solve this problem, I decided that I would stop commenting on other sites. I can just write whatever I have to say on this blog, where I am in control, and then I can just link to the relevant article to provide context. I would have used my existing blog at apreche.net, but I was a frequent commenter. I was worried that a flood of comments would drown out my original content.

Posting comments to other sites exclusively on my own blog had other benefits. I don’t have to worry about being blocked or banned. I don’t need as many logins and accounts on sites just to post comments there. There’s even a miniscule chance I could generate my own audience with a centralized collection of comments.

This plan worked for awhile. I posted quite a few comments here. And because it was on my own blog, I put more effort into them. Instead of comments, I was writing blog responses. That’s good for traffic at least. On sites like reddit or hackernews you often see stories voted up which are responses to other recently upvoted stories. It hasn’t happened to me yet, but it could happen.

Then something unexpected happened. It was so gradual I didn’t even realize it until recently. As the title of this post suggests, I stopped commenting almost entirely. I can think of some possible reasons, but honestly, I’m not completely sure why this has happened.

Is it because I have so much upstream bandwidth for expressive output that I don’t need to comment? Between Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, forums, a podcast, and more, there are so many ways to broadcast content on the web that one person can not fill all the pipes.

Is it because I have been making the same comments repeatedly for years, and got tired of it? If so, why now? Posting the same arguments repeatedly for 10+ years didn’t get old. Did something happen recently that caused me to tire of something I had done enthusiastically for so many years?

Is it because posting comments on a blog like this is much more work than posting normally? I’m not going to put in such extra effort for a throwaway comment. Is it just that there is so rarely something actually worth commenting on?

As I said, I don’t know. I’ve just reached a point in my life where I rarely comment on stores on the web. Maybe because I’m now consciously thinking about my lack of commenting, I will start commenting again.

I do think, though, that this lack of commenting is probably a good thing. How much time was I spending typing comments. How much time did I spend typing this very post? Is there a more valuable use of my time than commenting? There probably is. Because of that, I can say that this separate commenting blog is a success despite the lack of content. The only way it could have failed is if I had continued to post comments scattered across the web.

Thus, I suggest to everyone to do the same. Go right now and setup a separate blog of some kind, even a tumblr. Then whenever you are about to post a comment anywhere, post it in the blog instead. If you stick to this plan, it can only mean good things.

A Blog of Commentsb

I would like to begin by thanking Daring Fireball for breaking the final straw leading to the creation of this blog. If it were not for people writing these sorts of things, then this blog would never have come to be.

You write on your site; I write on mine. That’s a response. I don’t use comments on Wilcox’s site to respond publicly to his pieces, but somehow it’s unfair that he can’t use comments on my site to respond to mine?

I’ll Tell You What’s Fair

I already have my own personal blog and a podcast. Why in the world would I need yet another avenue for personal expression? For many years I have frequently commented on other people’s blogs. I imagine I’ve spent a great deal of time typing a great many words. But why did I do it? Almost all of that was for naught. Well, no more will I type into the aether.

Commenting on the blogs of others is, now that I truly realize it, a pretty big waste of time. Your comment will never get any real attention. Have you ever seen anyone pass around a link to a specific comment? Not often. People share links to posts, not comments. Why choose to write a letter to the editor of one newspaper when you are free to take the front page of another?

Comments are fraught with many other problems as well. They can be lost to the ages when blogs disappear. They can be moderated out of existence. You have to remember you wrote them to revisit the blog and see if there are any replies. Most of your comments are simply lost to time and space as the original blog post becomes old and forgotten. Communities that form around specific sites can give you guff. You sometimes have to maintain registrations at various sites to get commenting privileges, something which Disqus has somewhat mitigated. And let us not forget those sites which do not allow you to comment at all.

Consider a large site like Engadget. Some posts there have thousands of comments. There’s no reason to ever post there. In all likelihood your post will never be read by any human being. Why write something meaningful that will not be read? If what you write is not meaningful, why write it at all?

Therefore, I have completely given up commenting on other blogs. Whenever I feel the need to post a comment, I will simply write my comment here and link to the post to which I am replying. The reason I have made a separate blog for this is because I do not want my commentary on the work of others to pollute the channels containing my own original works.

If only I had done this for as long as comments have existed. Years of my comments would all be collected and preserved in one place instead of scattered to the winds. C’est la vie.

Ironically, I have enabled the commenting feature on this very blog, but perhaps you should reconsider whether you should be using it.